Edinburgh school strikes planned by Unison are suspended after Cosla improves pay offer
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Unison members in Edinburgh and three other areas, including janitors and catering staff, were due to walk out for 24 hours in a long-running campaign for better wages. Two smaller unions, Unite and the GMB, had already voted to accept the earlier offer. Now Unison will put the new pay offer to members with the recommendation that they vote to accept it
The union said they had negotiated a ground-breaking commitment to tackle low pay across local government which should deliver above-inflation increases for the lowest paid workers for at least the next three years.
Scottish councils’ umbrella body Cosla said "intensive talks" with the Scottish Government had found a way to underwrite some "limited one-off funding" to improve the pay deal. It means the planned one-day stoppage in Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, Dumfries & Galloway and Fife will not go ahead.
Unison claimed that action by its members over the past months had delivered an additional £100m into the pay packets of local government workers, including an additional £17.2m secured in the last couple of weeks. An agreement to backdate the full offer to the beginning of April for all workers further benefits around four in 10 of the workforce.
Unison Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “The improvements put forward today help address low pay and support those in the squeezed middle. The commitment to delivering a minimum rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers by April 2026 will go a long way to tackling low pay across the sector.”
Chair of the local government committee, Mark Ferguson said the minimum of £15 per hour for local government workers was ground-breaking and should see above-inflation increases for those on the lowest pay for at least the next three years. “This will make a real difference to their lives. Where previous offers only offered talks about the possibility of this being achieved, these improvements make it happen. This has been a long-standing Unison objective to help those on the very lowest pay and we will work hard with Cosla on the practicalities of delivering it.”
Tens of thousands of children missed lessons on Wednesday this week when school staff in Glasgow, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire walked out. Strikes in other areas planned for November 15 have also been suspended pending the ballot.
There had been seculation local authority leaders could decide to impose the offer accepted by Unite and the GMB on all staff involved. And Unison had warned such a move would escalate the dispute.
Instead, Cosla said it was now abe to to put additional funding into the offer, allowing the whole package to be backdated. In a statement it said: “Leaders recognise the importance of getting money into the pockets of our workforce as early as possible and today’s decisions will hopefully make that possible. This is the final £17.2m to get a package worth more than half a billion over the line which will increase the wages of our lowest paid employees by £2000 a year, for the second year in succession, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.”
Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland's senior organiser in public services, said: "It is welcome that our members will get the offer they voted for but this process has dragged on far too long. Our members accepted an offer that prioritised the lowest paid and should not have to wait any longer to receive their money. It must be with them before Christmas. We also welcome a renewed commitment to deliver a minimum wage of £15 an hour, but ambitions and aspirations don't pay bills."